STATESBORO, Ga. - The unknown was greeted with silence by Georgia Southern's football team Sunday afternoon.
Ten minutes into ESPNews' programming of the Division I-AA playoff pairings, the No. 4 seeded Eagles learned they would meet New Hampshire on Saturday at Paulson Stadium in the first round of the 16-team tournament.
They also learned the game would be televised nationally at 6 p.m. by ESPN2.
In past years, team highlights and the naming of an opponent drew at least a buzz. This time, there was no cheering. No high-fives.
As quietly as the players had filed into the Lupton Building at Paulson Stadium, they left just as quietly.
Some before the bracketing had been completed.
"We don't know a lot about New Hampshire, but I'm sure they're a good team or else they wouldn't be in the playoffs," senior slotback T.J. Anderson said.
The Eagles understand the road to an unprecedented seventh I-AA national championship is filled with pitfalls. Six of the top nine ranked teams are on Georgia Southern's side of the bracket.
The Wildcats (9-2) won the Atlantic 10 Conference's North Division by two games. They defeated defending champ Delaware in the season opener, then beat Division I-A Rutgers.
If Georgia Southern beats New Hampshire, it would stay at home to play the winner of Montana-Northwestern (La.) State.
Top-seeded Southern Illinois is a possible opponent for the Eagles on the road in the semifinals.
Georgia Southern would meet Southern Conference rival Furman only if both teams advance to the Dec. 17 finals.
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